The Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship Foundation was established in 1997 by her son Rick Szczepanski.
Born in 1920 to Polish immigrants, Mary Zdonek was raised on the west side of Grand Rapids in the John Ball Park area and was one of three children. She attended Sacred Heart Grade School and furthered her education at George A. Davis Vocational & Technical High School, eventually accepting a job in the office at Diesel Equipment Corporation, General Motors.
Mary met Ted Szczepanski, who along with his brother Harry were starting their own precision mask-making business, Thierica Studio, on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. They married on August 30, 1947 and raised three children of which Rick was the middle child. In 1954, when Rick was one year old, Mary was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
Mary always found time to share a smile, talk and visit with friends, relatives and neighbors, plan family vacations and prepare her family balanced meals. Her love of cooking was a passion and she became an expert at pleasing the palate. Many of her recipes have been passed on to future generations to enjoy.
Family was important to Mary and she always put them first, even though her pain and suffering grew worse through the years. Despite her difficulties, she kept a positive attitude. Her "Never Give Up" attitude is a legacy she left to many when she passed away in 1995 at the age of 75. For this reason the Mary J. Szczepanski MS Scholarship Foundation was established.